Socioeconomic Disparities in the Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy
Monday, March 7, 2016: 2:45 PM
Room 406AB (Convention Center)
Lucy A. Bilaver, PhD, , ,
Rationale :  The purpose of this study is to identify disparities in the economic burden of childhood food allergy.  We test the hypothesis that direct medical and out-of-pocket costs of children with food allergy vary by socioeconomic characteristics of families. 

Methods We analyzed cross-sectional survey data from 1,623 US caregivers with a food-allergic child collected between November 2011 and January 2012.  We used a 2-part regression model to estimate mean costs and identified differences by levels of household income and race and ethnicity. 

Results Children in the lowest income stratum spend two and one half times the amount on emergency department and hospitalization costs as a result of their food allergy than either of the other two income strata ($1,021, SE ±$209 versus ($434, SE±$106, and $416, SE±$94, p<0.05). Spending on specialists visits were lower in the lowest income stratum ($228, SE ±$22) compared with the highest income stratum ($311, SE ±$18, p<0.01). ).  In terms of adjusted mean out-of-pocket costs, we found that increasing family income was significantly associated with increasing out-of-pocket medication costs ($171 lowest income stratum, SE±$26; $366 highest income stratum, SE±$44, p<0.001).  African-American caregivers reported spending the lowest amount on direct medical and out-of-pocket costs, with average adjusted costs of $493 (SE ±$111) and $395 (SE ±$429), respectively.

Conclusions:   Socioeconomic disparities exist in the economic impact of food allergy.  Opportunities exist to mandate that life-saving medications are available more widely and to strength policy related to the management of food allergy in public spaces such as schools, parks, and restaurants.